Mel Ochoa, Chief Operating Officer, Landmark Ventures

Mel Ochoa is the Chief Operating Officer at Landmark Ventures, a strategic and financial advisory firm that offers a unique combination of venture development and global investment banking services. He is also the practice leader of SIS Omni (, born out of Landmark’s Social Innovation Summit, to drive transformation across impact initiatives within CSR, ESG, DEI, and more.


In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship, access to capital remains a critical factor determining the success or failure of startups. However, for many underrepresented founders, particularly women and people of color, traditional avenues of venture capital often present insurmountable barriers. The scarcity of venture capital, exacerbated by market uncertainties and systemic biases, has propelled the emergence of alternative funding sources like equity crowdfunding.

The ARC Fund stands at the forefront of this movement, addressing the pressing need for innovative financial solutions in today’s challenging economy. With a mission to support underestimated impact entrepreneurs, the ARC Fund leverages the power of equity crowdfunding through the Wefunder platform. This approach not only democratizes access to capital but also empowers individuals to invest in early-stage companies, fueling innovation and economic growth.

The statistics paint a stark reality: Black entrepreneurs faced a staggering 45% decrease in financing by the end of 2022, while women-only teams secured a mere 2.8% of venture capital in 2023. The traditional venture capital model has failed to adequately support diverse founders, perpetuating systemic inequalities within the startup ecosystem. Equity crowdfunding offers a disruptive solution, leveling the playing field and amplifying the voices of underrepresented entrepreneurs.

At the heart of equity crowdfunding is inclusivity. By allowing unaccredited investors to participate in funding rounds for as little as $100, equity crowdfunding democratizes investment opportunities, bypassing the traditional barriers of wealth and privilege. This democratization of capital not only diversifies the investor pool but also channels resources directly into the hands of entrepreneurs who have historically been overlooked by traditional venture capitalists.

The success stories of equity crowdfunding speak volumes. Campaigns led by women-only founders boast an impressive 87.5% success rate, far surpassing the industry average. Similarly, minority-only founders achieve a success rate of 46%, demonstrating the untapped potential within underrepresented communities. Equity crowdfunding not only provides capital but also serves as a catalyst for empowerment, enabling founders to realize their visions and drive meaningful change.

The ARC Fund’s support further enhances the efficacy of equity crowdfunding for underrepresented entrepreneurs. By offering comprehensive assistance, including campaign preparation, coaching, and advisory support, the ARC Fund equips founders with the tools they need to navigate the crowdfunding process successfully. This hands-on approach not only maximizes campaign effectiveness but also fosters long-term entrepreneurial success.

The initial launches of the ARC Fund spotlight the diversity and innovation inherent in underrepresented entrepreneurship. From Nopalera’s celebration of Chicana heritage to EQL Finance’s commitment to financial wellness, these ventures embody the spirit of resilience and creativity that defines impact entrepreneurship. By amplifying their voices and providing strategic support, the ARC Fund catalyzes positive change within communities and industries alike.

Equity crowdfunding is more than just a fundraising tool; it is a vehicle for social and economic empowerment. By harnessing the collective power of individual investors, equity crowdfunding democratizes access to capital and unlocks opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs. As we navigate an increasingly complex economic landscape, it is imperative that we embrace inclusive financial models that prioritize all people.

The ARC Fund’s embrace of equity crowdfunding represents a paradigm shift in the world of impact entrepreneurship. By bridging the gap between capital and underrepresented founders, the ARC Fund not only fuels innovation but also catalyzes social change. As we look toward a future defined by resilience and opportunity, equity crowdfunding stands as a beacon of hope, empowering entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and create a more equitable world for all.

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